What is it that most people want in life? I would say, to be happy and free of suffering. Would you agree? So, then the question in my mind is- Can we find happiness in the world around us, or do we need to look inside ourselves?
Who am I? Many traditions teach self-inquiry as a means to answering this question. Of course, one of the first things we experience when we try self-inquiry is our ‘monkey-mind’. When we try to be quiet, try to meditate, try to concentrate, our mind jumps from thought to thought going in every direction like little monkeys playing and jumping in trees.
The objective of most spiritual practices is to understand the ego and overcome its dominance over us. Understanding the ego is only the first step in self-inquiry. With self-inquiry, the goal is to destroy the ego completely. Maybe I put that the wrong way. What we need to destroy is our false identification with the ego.
We assume we cannot live without our ego. It attaches to all things external- objects, thoughts, sensations. Taking a deep look at our ego and trying to understand what it is exactly, eventually causes it to disappear, leaving us with only the self. This self is pure consciousness.
Self-realization occurs when the mind has permanently and completely merged into the self. The illusion of “I” is gone. The mental faculties continue to function normally, but without the interference of mind chatter. Interactions with others and daily routines go about as usual.
Our desire to be happy is realized when we rid ourselves of the ignorance that keeps us from it. We let go of our thoughts and ask, Who am I?.